Google, Bing move to block illegal sites

Internet users will find it harder to search for illegally streamed live football matches, pirated music and other creative materials under a new plan to crack down on piracy websites.

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Search engine giants Google and Bing have signed up to a voluntary code of practice aimed at protecting users’ safety and prevent them from visiting disreputable content providers.

The code, the first of its kind in the UK, will accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rights holders.

It means those who search for content such as music videos, digital books and football coverage will more likely to be taken to bona fide providers rather than pirate sites where a user’s security may be at risk.

Eddy Leviten, director-general at the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said: “Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content.

“What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones.

“It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.

“You go into schools and speak to children and many will say they want to be on YouTube, to be a personality on there.

“When you explain to them that they need to protect their ideas, their content, from being stolen or pirated, they understand.”

Organisers say this agreement will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures aimed at reducing online infringement.

These include court-ordered site blocking, work with brands to reduce advertising on illegal sites and the Get it Right From A Genuine Site consumer education campaign, which encourages fans to value the creative process and directs them to legal sources of content.

The changes are expected to be rolled out by the (northern) summer.

Mugabe says he’s people’s choice for poll

Zimbabwe’s people and the ruling ZANU-PF party see no viable alternative candidate to President Robert Mugabe for general elections in 2018, state media have quoted him as saying.

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“They want me to stand for elections, they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party,” Africa’s oldest leader said on Sunday.

“The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am,” he said in comments to state media ahead of his 93rd birthday this week.

Mugabe has been in power in the southern African country since 1980 and in December his party confirmed him as its candidate for the next presidential election expected in mid-2018, when he will be 94.

“Of course if I feel that I can’t do it any more, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now I think I can’t say so,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe, known for his combative style, said he agreed with US President Donald Trump’s “America for America” approach.

“When it comes to Donald Trump, on the one hand talking of American nationalism, well America for America, America for Americans – on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans,” he said.

The state-run Sunday Mail newspaper said he added Trump might review the sanctions imposed on Mugabe and members of his inner circle by Washington in 2003 over alleged rights violations. The sanctions were extended by the Obama administration.

Mugabe said he had not wanted Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 White House election because “I knew she could slap sanctions on us as a legacy.”

“We are just now under sanctions imposed not by Donald Trump, but by Obama. What arrogance is that?,” Mugabe was quoted as saying.

Critics accuse Mugabe of wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies through policies such as violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms and money printing. He and his party say the economy has been undermined by western powers.

Commonwealth ripped off more than $1.2b

Identity fraud is becoming a costly issue for the federal government, with more and more Australians misusing documents to access benefits like welfare.

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A new report by the Australian Institute of Criminology found Commonwealth entities were defrauded of more than $1.2 billion between 2010 and 2014.

A vast majority of the nearly 400,000 reported incidents were allegedly committed by members of the public, but nearly 10 per cent involved public servants or contractors.

Those largely related to the misuse of government credit cards or obtaining cash without permission, at a cost of almost $13 million.

While cases of internal fraud declined over the four years, the number of alleged incidents involving identity misuse by the public jumped 360 per cent.

More than 17,000 incidents were reported in 2010-11, compared to nearly 80,000 in 2013-14.

They most common related to government entitlements – such as social security – revenue and visas or citizenship.

While the increase was linked to changes of how one entity classified some kinds of fraud, the report said it still indicated “risks associated with identity are of real concern”.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the fight against bribery and fraud was ongoing.

“Our agencies are pursuing fraud here and beyond our borders to protect our national interest and the interests of every Australian,” he said in a statement.

The report also found:

* Losses suffered by Commonwealth entities due to fraud jumped 450 per cent between 2010-11 and 2013-14, from $119 million to $673 million

* $75.3 million was recovered in that period

* 36 per cent of Commonwealth entities experienced fraud in 2013-14, down from 40 per cent in 2010-11

* The number of suspected internal fraud incidents dropped 57 per cent between 2010-11 and 2013-14

Trump mulls national security adviser pick

President Donald Trump may do another round of interviews for the position of national security adviser with new or existing candidates as he scrambles to fill the post following the ouster of Michael Flynn.

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Trump interviewed four finalists on Sunday and may meet with some of them again on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

The president interviewed acting adviser Keith Kellogg, former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Lieutenant General HR McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

“We may have some additional meetings and names tomorrow, and may also meet with a couple of those people again,” Sanders said.

Trump returns to Washington on Monday.

The national security adviser is one of the most senior jobs at the White House, holding broad influence over US foreign policy across the globe and presiding over the National Security Council staff.

White House officials made clear on Sunday that the new adviser would have autonomy over staffing decisions, an issue that has been reported to have thwarted some other candidates.

Trump’s first choice to fill the job after Flynn’s departure, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned it down, citing family and financial reasons.

Another potential choice, David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA chief who resigned in 2012 over an extramarital affair, was cut from the president’s short list.

Sources familiar with the candidates’ thinking said they both wanted control over staffing of their team, and Trump was reluctant to grant that authority.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus denied the reports that Harward and Petraeus wanted more control than Trump was prepared to give, and said in an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the new adviser “can do whatever he or she wants to do with the staffing”.

He said the issue never came up in discussions with Harward and they “hadn’t really gone down the road” with Petraeus.

The White House confirmed that Craig Deare, the NSC’s senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, had left that role.

Politico reported that he was dismissed for criticising the president and his top aides.

“He was just sent back to his original position, so he wasn’t fired,” Sanders said. Deare is on the faculty of the National Defense University.

Asked if government employees should be concerned that they would lose their jobs if they criticised Trump, Sanders said: “I don’t think that any person that is there in order to carry out the president’s agenda should be against the president’s agenda.”

The national security adviser is an independent aide to the president and does not require confirmation by the US Senate.

oOh!Media eyes growth after FY profit rise

Outdoor and digital advertising group oOh!Media has lifted full-year profit 17.

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4 per cent and is targeting further growth in a year it hopes will include the completion of its merger with rival APN Outdoor.

Net profit for the 12 months to December 31 rose to $21.6 million following a trio of acquisitions and the continued rollout of its digital billboards.

Chief executive Brendan Cook said oOh!Media would benefit from increased savings from the integration of its recently acquired businesses in the 2017 financial year.

The company on Monday said the acquisition and integration of Executive Channel Network, Junkee Media and Cactus Imaging had already strengthened its reach, content capability and efficiency.

“We participate in a competitive and rapidly evolving broader advertising market … (and) it’s clear we need to invest and innovate,” Mr Cook told analysts on Monday.

“Therefore, to compete against global online players aggressive traditional media such as TV and radio, we will continue to invest in product, data and content to improve the effectiveness of out of home (adverting).”

Underlying earnings rose 27 per cent at $73.5 million, at the upper end of guidance issued in December, after the advertiser more than doubled its number of large format digital screens in premium locations from 90 to 190.

Mr Cook said digital conversion would continue at pace in 2017 even though the addition of 54 large format road billboards easily exceeded a prospectus target of 50 by 2018.

“Our performance highlights the benefits of our diversified portfolio of assets, and we firmly believe this positions the company for continuing growth,” Mr Cook said.

“Importantly, the products are increasingly benefiting from greater co-ordination of campaigns and the network effect across multiple media environments and channels.”

Mr Cook did not give earnings guidance for 2017 because the proposed $1.6 billion APN Outdoor merger is still subject to shareholder approval.

He said a scheme meeting was expected in April, with the merger hopefully completed in May.

Revenue for the 12 months to December 31 rose 20.1 per cent, with underlying earnings up 27 per cent at $73.5 million, at the upper end of guidance issued in December.

At 1200 AEDT, shares in oOh!Media were up nine cents, or two per cent, at $4.59.

OOH!MEDIA UPS FY PROFIT

* Net profit up 17.4pct to $21.6m

* Revenue up 20.1pct to $336.1m

* Final dividend up 3.3 cents to 10.0 cents, fully franked

Writedowns, US pressure Brambles result

Shares in Brambles have slumped after the logistics group unveiled a 50 per cent slide in first-half profit and lowered full-year profit forecasts.

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Brambles’ net profit for the six months to December 31 halved to $US146.2 million ($A190.5 million), due to $US138.5 million in impairments, most of that on its US oil and gas container joint venture, Hoover Ferguson Group.

The company’s continuing operations profit for the half was flat at $US295.3 million, while sales revenue for continuing operations has risen four per cent to $US2.74 billion.

Competition and cost pressures in its North American pallets business weighed on the first-half results, with outgoing chief executive Tom Gorman labelling the performance of the business “disappointing”.

“We came into this financial year with good momentum in North America and set our expectations high for continued growth,” he said.

“Unfortunately, a combination of market-driven cost factors, and increased competition have resulted in overall performance well below our expectations.”

After warning in January that it would not meet previous guidance for full-year revenue growth of between seven and nine per cent, and underlying profit growth of nine-11 per cent, Brambles on Monday said revenue growth for 2016/17 was now expected to be around five per cent in constant currency terms.

The company said profit would be flat on 2015/16.

Brambles shares were down 8.3 per cent to $9.64 at 1137 AEDT, the lowest level since September, 2015.

Monday’s results also marked Graham Chipchase’s taking over formally from Mr Gorman, after being announced as the long-running CEO’s successor in August.

BRAMBLES DOWN AS GORMAN PACKS IT IN

* Net profit down 50 pct to $146.2m

* Revenue up four pct to $2.74bn

* Interim dividend unchanged at 14.5 cents, 25pct franked

Iraqi troops begin offensive on western Mosul

Iraqi forces say they have made progress on day one of their offensive to drive out Islamic State from Iraq’s second-biggest city in the country’s north.

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They say they have taken several villages in their push towards Mosul airport.

Iraq’s Ministry of Defence has released footage of its air strikes on IS targets in the western flank.

The commander of the army aviation, Lieutenant General Hamid al-Maliki, says it has been a successful start.

“Our helicopters took off in the early hours of the start of the battle to back up the troops of al-Hashd al-Shaabi Popular Mobilisation Forces and carried out 22 sorties. They made marvellous results. They were able to kill 93 Islamic State militants and destroyed 18 military and armoured vehicles which were being used by Islamic State.”

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul last month, but the city’s west remains in the hands of the militants.

Commanders expect the battle to be more difficult than in the east because tanks and armoured vehicles cannot pass through its narrow alleyways.

Residents say the militants have a network of passageways and tunnels to help them hide and fight among civilians, vanish after hit-and-run operations and track government troops.

Western Mosul contains the old city centre, with its ancient souks and Grand Mosque and most government administrative buildings.

Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has set out the mission’s priorities.

“I call on our brave troops to start the push to liberate the rest of the city and to liberate people from the oppression and terrorism of Daesh. Our main mission is to liberate the people before liberating the land. You have done a great job by liberating other areas, by taking care of people — including the displaced people — and by providing services for them. We reiterate, as we said before, the importance of taking care of the people and dealing with them in a humanitarian way and providing all the necessary requirements for the displaced people as you did before, you brave fighters.”

United States defence secretary Jim Mattis has refused to be drawn on specifics of the operation.

He says only that US troops are helping the Iraqi forces against IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“The US forces continue in the same role that they were in in east Mosul, and the coalition forces are in support of this operation, and we will continue, as you know, with the accelerated effort to destroy ISIS.”

Around 650,000 people are believed to be trapped in western Mosul.

The United Nations estimates up to 400,000 could be displaced by the offensive as residents suffer food and fuel shortages and markets are closed.

The Iraqi Defence Ministry says Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets on western Mosul warning residents the battle to dislodge IS was imminent.

The leaflets told IS members to surrender or face what they called “a fatal end.”

But the group is not giving up without a fight.

There are reports IS unleashed two attacks on government-controlled eastern Mosul in the hours before the offensive began.

The owner of a restaurant frequented by security forces told the BBC he is too scared to be identified.

“The situation is very bad. We are opening only two hours a day. An attack could happen any time. ISIL threatened to carry out more attacks when civilians and security personnel gather around restaurants and cafes. That’s why we are so afraid.”

 

 

 

Hibernation touted as treatment for cancer

Cancer could be tackled more effectively by putting patients into a torpor state similar to that of a hibernating bear, a scientist claims.

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Tumour growth would slow right down or cease while healthy cells in the body become more resistant to radiation, says physicist Professor Marco Durante, from the Trento Institute in Italy.

As a result larger doses of cancer-killing radiotherapy could be administered in safety.

The radical idea follows years of research on hibernating animals, and anecdotal reports of people who have been plunged into deep freeze and survived.

During hibernation, a form of cold temperature deep sleep, body functions such as heart and respiration rate, metabolism and oxygen uptake all slow down.

At the molecular level, too, gene activity and protein synthesis are reduced to a crawling pace.

All these effects could have big implications for cancer treatment, Prof Durante, a highly respected expert in the field of radiobiology, believes.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston, he said: “If you can do it, you can take (advanced) cancers that are fourth stage.

“Around 50 per cent of cancer patients have advanced cancer, so it is a large number. We all have known someone affected this way. And there is nothing that we can do with them. They have multiple metastasis (spreading tumours) in the body.

“You cannot treat all the metastasis – you cannot use surgery to everywhere to remove the cancer or do radiation in all the affected parts of the body or you will kill the patients trying to destroy the cancer.

“But if you could put the patient into synthetic torpor you could stop the cancer growing. It gives you more time.

“You also increase radio-resistance. So you can treat all the different metastases without killing the patient. You wake up the patients and they are cured – that is our ambition.”

Currently it is not technically possible to hibernate a human in a safe and controlled way, but such a goal could be achieved within 10 years, Prof Durante believes.

Synthetic torpor has been induced in rats, which unlike mice do not hibernate naturally, by manipulating a specific part of the brain, he said.

He added: “Now it is understood how it works, I’m confident we will be able to develop drugs that can induce this torpor. Then we would lower body temperature to 13C-15C.

“We are aiming for at least one week. It gives us time to deliver all the treatments that are needed to make the person cancer-free.”

A normal body temperature is 37C.

There are reported cases of people experiencing much lower temperatures for significant periods of time without coming to harm.

Swedish radiologist Anna Bagenholm fell into a hole in ice where she remained for more than an hour while her body temperature fell to 13.7C, the lowest ever recorded in a living human.

Despite a slight amount of nerve injury she made a complete recovery and returned to work.

Another case involved Erika Nordby, a 13-month-old Canadian baby who toddled outside her house wearing only a nappy in sub-zero conditions. When she was found the temperature outside was minus 24C and she was considered clinically dead. She had no recordable heart beat.

After being placed under a warming blanket she returned to normal showing no signs of serious damage. Her doctor suggested that she may have been in a hibernation-like state.

Hitler’s phone sells for more than US$240,000

Originally a black Bakelite phone, later painted crimson and engraved with Hitler’s name, the relic was found in the Nazi leader’s Berlin bunker in 1945 following the regime’s defeat.

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The auction house Alexander Historical Auctions, which did not reveal the winning bidder’s identity, had estimated its worth between $200,000 and $300,000. The starting bid was set at $100,000.

The Maryland company auctioned off more than a thousand items including the phone and a porcelain sculpture of an Alsatian dog for $24,300.

Both winners bid by telephone.

More than 70 years old, the Siemens rotary telephone is embossed with a swastika and the eagle symbolic of the Third Reich.

An engraving of a swastika and Adolf Hitler’s name are seen on the back of Hitler’s personal travelling telephone (AAP)AAP

Alexander House dubbed the phone — which Hitler received from the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany’s armed forces — as “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time, which sent millions to their deaths.”

It said Hitler used it to give most of his orders during the last two years of World War II.

Russian officers gave the device to British Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner during a tour of the bunker shortly after Germany’s surrender.

Rayner’s son, who inherited the phone, put it up for sale, its paint now peeling to reveal the original synthetic black resin surface.

Andreas Kornfeld of Alexander House told AFP its estimates were based on a number of factors, including “rarity and uniqueness.”

“It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history,” the auction house said in a statement. “This was not a staid office telephone.”

“This was Hitler’s mobile device of destruction.”

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Su Oh eyes first professional title

Su Oh’s love of golf arose out of a parental dispute over how much time her father spent out on the course instead of with his children after moving to Australia.

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She explains it like this.

“And Mum’s like ‘you’re here for a month and you’re not spending any time with the kids’. So she got mad and his choice was to take one of the kids to the golf course because he couldn’t give up golf. So, yeah, and I was the one that wanted to go with him.”

But she didn’t spend time in the golf buggy just watching Dad, she picked up the clubs and had a go too.

And her father soon realised she had talent.

“And then I got ice-cream on the way back. So, I thought it was a really good thing. Because I didn’t have anything else to do. I was only in grade three. So it was just school and on the weekends I would go to golf with him. The better I scored the bigger the ice-cream was. So, yeah.”

Her life in South Korea is now just a distant memory and having represented Australia at the Rio Olympics last year, Su says her next goal is to get her maiden win on the Ladies Professional Golfers Association, or LPGA, Tour.

“My first win would be good on the LPGA. I think that’s my ultimate goal for the year – to get the first win.”

If she’s to achieve that goal sooner rather than later, Su will have to keep an eye on her work life balance.

She knows all about the need for that.

Her mother won eight national swimming titles back in South Korea while her father owned and ran a sports leisure centre.

Seeing how hard her parents have worked has made her realise what she needs to do to succeed.

But Su says hard work isn’t everything.

“Having a balance – just in anything really a balanced life is good. When I’m practicing, then I’m practicing. When I’m having dinner with friends then it’s just dinner with friends. Having some good people around helps, too.”

Su has a positive approach to all the travelling she has to do now she’s on the professional circuit.

In fact, one of the things she loves to do when she visits the various countries on the tour is go sightseeing.

“Since we get to go to so many different places I think it’s such a waste if we don’t see and get more worldly, as a lot of my older friends say.”

She may be seeing the world now, but her move from South Korea to Australia when she was just 8 years old was made all the easier by taking up the sport of golf.

“It just made my transition, migrating to Australia, a lot easier and obviously with golf you get to meet so many people and I’ve got to meet a lot of great people. A lot of my friends are from golf.”

Seeing the world, following her sporting dreams.

Su Oh has already experienced more cultures than the average person her age.

And if she sticks to her work ethic, a rise up the rankings from her current world number 70 doesn’t seem too far away.